Interesting quotes by Joseph McCarthy
“McCarthyism is Americanism with its sleeves rolled.”
“A government job is a privilege, not a right. There is no reason why men who chum with Communists, who refuse to turn their backs upon traitors and who are consistently found at the time and place where disaster strikes America and success comes to international Communism, should be given positions of power in government.”
A brief biography of Joseph McCarthy
Joseph Raymond McCarthy was born on November 14, 1908 in Grand Chute, Wisconsin. He was a Republican Senator for Wisconsin from 1947 until 1957. McCarthy was also a lawyer, judge and chairman of the Senate Committee on Government Operations from 1953 to 1955.
Born on a farm in Wisconsin, McCarthy was the fifth child out of seven. His mother was from Ireland and his father was born in the United States. In order to help his parents maintain their farm, at age fourteen, Joseph dropped out of school. However, when he was twenty, McCarthy returned to school and graduated within a year. Afterwards, he was accepted into Marquette University. At first, he started out in electrical engineering, but earned himself a bachelor of law degree in 1935. Upon graduation, McCarthy was accepted into the bar association. While he worked for a law firm, he attempted to run for district attorney in 1936, though he was not elected. In 1939, McCarthy became a judge in the tenth District Circuit, making him the youngest circuit judge in Wisconsin history. In 1942, he joined the United States Marine Corps and worked as an intelligence briefing officer. He also volunteered to fly as a gun-observer for a number of combat missions and earned the nickname, “Tail-Gunner Joe.” This nickname later became a denomination of contempt by critics, since some of McCarthy’s marine stories were exaggerated or just not true.
In 1946, Joseph McCarthy began his task as Senator for Wisconsin and he would continue this position until his death. McCarthy became well-known in 1950 when he gave his Enemies from Within speech in Wheeling, West Virginia. In this speech, McCarthy affirmed he had a list of government employees involved with the Communist Party—including within the U.S. Army and President Truman’s administration. He sent President Harry S. Truman a letter on February 11, 1950, where he stated this knowledge and demanded action be taken. Soon after, the word “McCarthyism” was born. The word originated from the Washington Post, specifically from a cartoonist named Herbert Block. McCarthyism was used in a defamatory sense—in reference to McCarthy’s actions, typically paired with the idea that he was on a witch-hunt—and was also used in Communist periodicals to further attack him. In 1952, during a speech, he embodied the word, saying, “McCarthyism is Americanism with its sleeves rolled.” Subsequently, McCarthy published his book, McCarthyism: The Fight For America. He stated within its pages, “...a vast number of deeply disturbed Americans have asked a multitude of questions. They want the answers---documented and proved---so they may determine for themselves the true situation. This book is my answer to those questions.”
In 1953, McCarthy became chairman of the Senate Committee on Government Operations—including the Subcommittee on Investigations. This role permitted McCarthy to further his probe into the Communist infiltration of the United States government. McCarthy’s committee also started investigating the United States Army—specifically the Army Signal Corps’ laboratory at Fort Monmouth. Following in April 1954, and continuing up until June, the Army-McCarthy hearings began. The hearings were conducted under the United States Senate’s Subcommittee on Investigations, where accusations between the Army and McCarthy were explored. The media broadcasted live coverage and there were a bevy of press reports, many being negative—which further solidified the stigma attached to McCarthy and diminished his popularity even more. On December 2, 1954, the Senate censured McCarthy with a vote of 67-22. However, McCarthy didn’t let that stop him. He continued to speak out against Communism until he died.
Joseph R. McCarthy died on May 2, 1957 in Bethesda, Maryland. He is buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery near his hometown in Wisconsin. The cause of McCarthy’s death is listed as “Hepatitis, acute, cause unknown”, even though doctors never reported him being in critical condition.
Because of investigations related to Soviet spy, Alger Hiss, McCarthy is often falsely consolidated with the hearings of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. The committee is notoriously known for its investigations into Hollywood, resulting in numerous actors, producers and writers being blacklisted. Being under the control of the House of Representatives, and McCarthy being a senator, he had no direct link to the committee, nor was he involved in any of the interrogations they carried out. The myth that Joseph McCarthy was directly involved in the House committee still perpetuates, is even taught at schools as being fact, and is referenced across mainstream culture—in books, music, in the news and on the silver screen.